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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Nathaniel Hackett’s bringing sexy back.
“I’m going to make a run at being the sexiest coach in the NFL against [Matt LaFleur],” the Denver Broncos’ head coach said with a laugh on Friday afternoon as he was introduced as the team’s new head coach.
Hackett’s brining Justin Timberlake—or some variation of tunes—back to Broncos practice.
“When it comes to that energy, of course you know music is going to be out there and it’s going to be the guys’ music because that’s what it’s about,” the avid Timberlake fan stated.
And Hackett’s bringing fun back to football in Denver.
“I want to create this environment where people want to come in this building and work and have fun doing it,” Hackett stated, mentioning fun six different times in his introductory presser.
Fun will also be a staple of Hackett’s innovative and always-changing offense.
“I think the starting point is outside zone. Outside zone on offense is what you want to do, and you want to base that off of play-pass,” Hackett said, explaining what his offense in Denver will look like. “You want to make the defense cover the entire field. You want to take shots down the field. Let’s all face it, that’s what the people in the stands love—they love those bombs down the field.”
Hackett’s going to give the people what they want—bombs.
Hackett’s bringing the deep bombs from John Elway to Ed McCaffrey back. Or at least the 2022 rendition.
“I remember watching John Elway throw the ball down the field to McCaffrey on all of those boot fakes. That was unbelievable,” the football lifer said with as much excitement as a diehard Broncos fan. “This is really where this system evolved from and was created. You’re always looking for that, and mixing in that ‘West Coast’ principle of the drop-back game. That’s kind of a quick summary. So many fun things to talk about with the offense.”
Fun. That will be a staple in Denver’s new offense. That word has been lost for over half a decade with the Broncos, starting with their offense.
Growing up as a student of the game and learning under his dad and long-time coach, Paul Hackett, the 42-year-old coach has seen every offensive system that’s ever been used.
But Hackett’s offense won’t be tied to a system. While it will have principles of the West Coast offense, it will be ever changing—something Denver’s offense hasn’t had in years.
“First and foremost any offense that you have has to be maneuverable and adjustable for whoever you have on your team,” Hackett said. “It’s about finding out what your guys do the best and being able to do that over and over again and taking advantage of their skillsets. You want to have enough that you can do so many different things and adjust because there are injuries. There’s nothing you can do about that in football, that’s just how it is. You have to be able to maneuver that.”
For the first time since 2018, Hackett will be calling the offensive plays, something he’s thrilled to get back to doing.
On the flip side, for the first time since 2016, the Broncos’ defensive coordinator, not the head coach, will be calling those plays.
But Hackett will still have his imprint on what Denver’s defensive identity will look like.
“I think when I look at defense, I look at the defenses that are the most difficult for me to go against,” Hackett stated. “And I think that any time that you’re looking at a defense, when the front structure is changing and when you don’t know what coverage it is—those are kind of the two things that I’m always going to be looking for is I never want somebody to know exactly what they’re getting.
“Because when I know exactly what you’re getting, good things are going to happen if everyone can execute it the right way,” he continued, basing his vision of the defense off of what he doesn’t like to face as an offensive head coach. “So that’s kind of the two of the biggest staples for me.”
On both sides of the ball, the Broncos’ won’t be defined by one idea, principle or system. In fact, Denver’s offense and defense will be best defined as ever changing.
“We’re going to do all kinds of fun stuff hopefully and it really starts with just winning ball games,” Hackett stated with one of his countless smiles on Friday afternoon.
As J.T. himself would say, the Broncos, specifically offense, is going to get its sexy on.